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Having been discharged from the Marines for a hayfever condition before ever seeing action, Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith (Eddie Bracken) delays the return to his hometown, feeling that he is a failure. While in a moment of melancholy, he meets up with a group of Marines who befriend him and encourage him to return home to his mother by fabricating a story that he was wounded in battle with honorable discharge. They make him wear a uniform complete with medals and is pushed by his new friends into accepting a Hero's welcome when he gets home where he is to be immortalized by a statue that he doesn't want, has songs written about his heroic battle stories, and ends up unwillingly running for mayor. Despite his best efforts to explain the truth, no one will listen.Written by
J. Adam Ingle
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Its initial television broadcasts took place in Seattle 2 February 1959 on KIRO (Channel 7), followed by Chicago Saturday 8 February 1959 on WBBM (Channel 2), by Toledo 1 March 1959 on WTOL (Channel 11), and by Omaha 5 March 1959 on KETV (Channel 7); its newfound popularity soon spread across the country as it first aired in Milwaukee 21 April 1959 on WITI (Channel 6), in New York City 30 May 1959 on WCBS (Channel 2, in Phoenix 25 August 1959 on KVAR (Channel 12), in Grand Rapids 11 September 1959 on WOOD (Channel 8), in Asheville 6 November 1959 on WLOS (Channel 13), in Johnstown 13 November 1959 on WJAC (Channel 6), in St. Louis 23 January 1960 on KMOX (Channel 4), in Minneapolis 9 March 1960 on WTCN (Channel 11), in Los Angeles 19 August 1960 on KNXT (Channel 2), in Philadelphia 15 July 1961 on WCAU (Channel 10), and in San Francisco 20 August 1961 on KPIX (Channel 5). It was released on DVD 21 November 2006 as one of seven titles in Universal's Preston Sturges: The Filmmaker Collection, and as a single 10 May 2011 as part of the Universal Cinema Classics series. Since that time, it's also enjoyed occasional presentations on Turner Classic Movies. See more »
Camera shadow on the backs of citizens when Woodrow comes out of the house after being nominated for mayor. See more »
[notices that Woodrow is in civilian clothes]
Where are the medals?
Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith:
Oh, oh, the medals. Well, I just wore those to get off the train. I suppose I shouldn't have.
What do you mean you shouldn't have? If all good men wore medals it wouldn't be so hard to tell the good from the bad.
See more »
The last of the really great comedies that Preston Sturges directed had a more serious undertone than his previous films. This is not to say that Hail the Conquering Hero isn't hilarious though. It is just as intelligent, fast-paced, subversive and witty as could be expected from the writer/director of The Lady Eve and The Palm Beach Story.
Eddie Bracken plays Woodrow Truesmith, a would-be marine who was discharged from service for chronic hay fever. Woodrow, whose father died a hero during WWI, hasn't had the heart to tell his mother about his discharge and has been pretending to still be on the front line. When he befriends a group of marines on leave, they dress him up as a hero and bring him home to make his mother happy, not anticipating that his whole town will give him a hero's welcome.
Considering that the film was made during the war, it is surprising the way it satirises the notion of the war hero as well as the attitudes of those who did not go away to fight. The awestruck townspeople are depicted as being rather gullible while the marines are shown as a tough, cohesive unit, if maybe a bit dishonest and mercenary (and in one case slightly unhinged). The film has fine production values and great performances across the board but it is Sturges' script, with its marvellous characterisations and sparkling dialogue, that really shines. If you like Preston Sturges' other, earlier comedies, this film is essential viewing.
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